Thomas Jefferson to William Rawle
Philadelphia May 15. 1793
By the inclosed papers1 you will perceive there is reason to believe that certain citizens of the United States have engaged in committing depredations on the property and commerce of some of the nations at peace with the United States. I have it in charge to express to you the desire of the Government that you would take such measures for apprehending and prosecuting them as shall be according to law.2 I am not able to point out to you the individuals against whom suggestions have been made but take the liberty of referring you to Mr Deblois and Mr Sharpe Delany who may give you information on the subject.3 I am with great esteem Sir Your most obedient and Most humble servant.
L (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters; copy, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Despatches.
1. Jefferson enclosed copies of a letter from Thomas Newton, Jr., and William Lindsay to GW of 5 May and its enclosed reports, and George Hammond’s fourth memorial of 8 May 1793, protesting the use of Charleston, S.C., as a base for French privateers (Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 25:686–87).
2. The United States’ first attempt at prosecution came in the case of Massachusetts mariner Gideon Henfield, the prize master of the British ship William, which the privateer Citoyen Genet brought into port at Philadelphia in June 1793 (Thomas Mifflin to GW, 22 June [third letter]; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 187; Marcus and Perry, Documentary History of the Supreme Court, description begins Maeva Marcus et al., eds. The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800. 8 vols. New York, 1985-2007. description ends 2:340–41).
3. Jefferson is referring to Lewis Deblois (1760–1833), a Philadelphia merchant who testified for the prosecution in the Henfield case, and to Sharp Delany, the collector of customs at Philadelphia 1789–98 (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 139).